News / Africa

Hunger Expected to Continue in Niger Despite Good Rains

A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)
A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)

Strong rains are boosting hopes for a good harvest in Niger, where nearly half the  people do not have enough to eat. So why are relief officials already predicting that the food crisis will continue into next year?

The strength of the international community's response to this year's food crisis in Niger helped feed more than 220,000 children under the age of five. At an in-patient therapeutic feeding center in the central Zinder region, cases of acute malnutrition have dropped from nearly 400 two months ago to less than 250 today.

But the need is still great. While more than 85 percent of children recover fully, the death rate is still nearly 8 percent. Other mothers leave the program before the treatment is complete. With seven full-time doctors and 41 nurses, the center has helped save the lives of children from the Zinder commune as well as the surrounding areas of Mirriah and Magaria.

"Things are improving slightly, but it is still extremely sobering," said Valerie Amos, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs. "This is a country where the development indicators are all very poor. Where you have population growth on a very large scale. I saw one woman today who had nine children. Four of them had died. There is huge amount of public education and awareness raising that needs to be done. It is a terrible thing to see children in that kind of situation."



Though acute malnutrition is on the decline, hunger in Niger is always a cycle. Even the best harvest will not last most families beyond February.

Despite good rains, many millet farmers are already deep in debt from last year's failed crops, so they will have less for themselves after paying off their loans.

In the village of Toumour, less than 60 kilometers from Chad, pastoralists who moved their cattle across the border lost nearly one-third of their herd to disease. Those who stayed behind lost as much as half their cattle. The U.N. says some isolated nomadic herders in northern enclaves lost everything.

While the U.N. Development Program has helped give pastoralists access to credit to rebuild their herds, Amos says more cattle and better rains alone can not solve Niger's structural malnutrition.

"It speaks to the structural issue," she noted. "You have very poor education indicators. You have a country that is quite complicated in the sense that you have people who are pastoralists. Some are nomadic. Some stay put. The country is vast with a small population. The infrastructure is poor. Agricultural development is not taking place at the kind of rate that it should. And it is also suffering the impact of climate change."

Relief officials say the response to this year's food crisis improved greatly after February's coup because military leaders were far more realistic about the challenges than the deposed government of Mamadou Tandja. As the country moves toward a new civilian government, Amos says what happens next is critical to Niger's long-term success.

"I hope that government will really look around and see what is happening to the people of Niger and put long-term, sustainable development at the top of its agenda," Amos said.

Voters in Niger decide whether to accept a new constitution later this month. If approved, it would lead to presidential elections in January, just as relief officials believe the next wave of hunger will begin.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid